If you haven’t seen “The View,” congratulations — you have something to do between 11 a.m and noon in most markets. However, the setup should be clear for anyone with a passing familiarity of coverage of the show.
A relatively stable gang of liberal co-hosts — now Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Sunny Hostin and Sara Haines — and a token conservative or two debate the issues of the day. The issues are presented, and reasonable discussion quickly is precluded by a bellowing-fest in which the liberal co-hosts drown out the conservatives.
You might have noticed that I haven’t mentioned the token conservative co-host at present. That’s because there are none.
Meghan McCain, daughter of the late Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain, left earlier this year.
In 2020, Abby Huntsman, daughter of former Utah GOP Gov. John Huntsman, also left — albeit after a falling out with McCain that got played up in the media with numerous sources on the show all-too-willing to spill the dirt.
I’ve joked before about the token conservative on “The View” being like the drummer in Spinal Tap: Don’t expect to last long, and expect to go out with a lot of tabloid headlines. Your job is to be a punching bag, a wrestling heel, a professional villain.
Huntsman said she was leaving to work on her father’s gubernatorial campaign, but everyone believed that excuse in the same way they believe a politician is resigning to spend time with their family.
From the sound of it, however, it wasn’t just McCain. On Thursday, Hollywood publication Deadline reported that, in an episode of her new podcast “I Wish Somebody Told Me,” Huntsman revealed the dirty secret behind why she wanted to leave — it was the “toxic” environment on the show. She said it “did not reflect my values” and was “rewarding people for bad behavior.”
“I’m never going to write a tell-all book,” said Huntsman, a former Fox News personality, about her 2018-20 tenure as co-host.
However, she blamed “executives in charge” for breeding a culture that “was all about money and the tabloids … You would see people act in ways that were not OK, that was very much part of the toxic environment of ‘The View,’ and here we were going on the air criticizing others for toxic culture.”
“Huntsman – who does not name names in the podcast as to who she did and didn’t get on well with, though her falling out with old friend McCain was well documented at the time – said that after she made the announcement of her departure, a ‘View’ producer asked that she read a statement on air denying media reports of a toxic workplace, a request she turned down,” Deadline’s Greg Evans reported.
“As she was walking on the set for what would be the last time, having said she wouldn’t read the statement, a producer, she says, sent her a text reading, ‘That was a mistake.’ Before the taping had concluded, Huntsman’s sister had emailed her a news article saying a source inside The View claimed that producers were going to fire Huntsman even before she announced her resignation.”
“When I was walking out of the building that day, I was living again,” Huntsman said. “I could breathe and feel myself breathing. I was present and I hadn’t been present for the almost two years I was there.”
Perhaps I’m reading into things, but my assumption is that Huntsman’s departure wasn’t just the fact she’d fallen out with Meghan McCain.
For one, she’d blamed producers for baking in a tabloid rivalry to a political chat show. For another, conservative “View” co-host departures are as frequent as Spinal Tap drummer deaths — except they don’t die and “This is Spinal Tap” is a work of fiction.
Take McCain, the last full-time punching bag on the show. While McCain publicly said she was leaving “The View” because she didn’t want to be away from her husband — pundit and co-founder of conservative publication The Federalist, Ben Domenech — she said in her new memoir that her decision to leave was made on her second day back from maternity leave in January of 2020.
That’s because of Behar’s response for her co-host during an argument when McCain teased, “You missed me so much when I was on maternity leave … You missed fighting with me.”
“I did not. I did not miss you. Zero,” Behar said.
McCain said in the book that she was reduced to tears during a commercial break.
“It is one of the most singular feelings of loneliness and anguish I have felt in my entire life,” McCain wrote. “It was a perfect storm of hormones, postpartum anxiety and a lot of demons on ‘The View’ coming out to bite me.”
Paula Faris was the last conservative-ish co-host to leave before those two. However, speaking to People last year, the ABC News journalist implied that her co-hosts expected her to be combative while producers wanted her to maintain objectivity due to her position with the network.
When she left the show in 2018, tabloid rumors (which she denies) blamed a feud between her and Goldberg as being the motivating factor behind her departure.
In her memoir, Faris described trying to cover the Republican National Convention while those headlines were breaking: “I muscled my way through the rest of the convention and cried myself all the way back to New York,” she wrote. (Whoopi’s response, it must be noted, did little to quell those tabloid rumors at the time, although Faris said they remain good friends.)
I’m not responsible 4 firing or moving people around or negotiating my coworkers contracts. I LIKE having a gig and as much as I’d like to
— Whoopi Goldberg (@WhoopiGoldberg) August 3, 2016
On the other hand, former George W. Bush administration official Nicolle Wallace — then a nominal Republican, now a liberal talk-show host on MSNBC — said she was fired from the show in 2015 for not being confrontational enough.
Candace Cameron Bure, another token conservative tossed to the lions, said her time co-hosting the show in 2015-2016 left her with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“The stress and the anxiety — I actually have a pit in my stomach right now,” she said on a podcast earlier this month, according to the Daily Caller.
“There was only one type of stress that I’ve ever felt in my life; that came from that show. And I (have) PTSD, like, I can feel it. It was so difficult, and to manage that emotional stress was very, very hard.”
According to USA Today in 2018, Jenny McCarthy, the former MTV host-turned-anti-vaccination activist, said the show’s producers told her to “act Republican” during her time on the show, which ended in 2014.
In a 2019 book on “The View,” McCarthy reminisced about her relationship with then-co-host Barbara Walters (as well as others on the show) and compared it to the 1981 movie “Mommie Dearest” — a film about how former Hollywood star Joan Crawford would abuse her adopted daughter.
“You know the movie ‘Mommie Dearest’?” McCarthy said, according to Entertainment Weekly. “I remember as a child watching that movie and going, ‘Holy cow!’ I’ve never seen a woman yell like that before until I worked with Barbara Walters.”
Of the full-time conservative hosts who’ve worked on “The View” since Elisabeth Hasselbeck was fired after a 10-year tenure in 2013 — itself a tabloid drama — only one seems to have left the show on neutral or positive terms.
According to E! Online, Jedediah Bila said while she thought she was “going to walk into this and it’s going to be constant stress … for me … that was not my experience.” She left the show to join Fox in 2018.
Meanwhile, the three liberal fixtures on the show — Behar, Goldberg and Hostin — have been there, more or less, since 1997, 2007 and 2016, respectively. (Behar took a two-year break, according to Entertainment Weekly.)
It’s almost as if this tabloid toxicity is constant — and yet, weighted toward one side of the aisle. Who would have ever thought?
Except everybody who’s ever watched, I mean.
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